Local Journalism Initiative: FAQs


June 25, 2020
Sarah Childress Series Senior Editor, FRONTLINE

Who can participate in the FRONTLINE Local Journalism Initiative?

We welcome proposals from local print, television, radio and online news organizations. Partner newsrooms should serve a specific geographic area. They should demonstrate a need for outside support to complete their proposed projects. FRONTLINE will select projects in part on whether they involve original, ambitious reporting in an area underserved by news media. Public media outlets, non-profit media and private news operations are invited to apply.


What kind of projects is FRONTLINE looking for?

 We are looking for investigative projects on subjects of local relevance. The subject can have a national or global resonance (such as the environment), but the proposals should demonstrate a strong and specific local angle and importance. An ideal proposal would be a work in progress: a project off to a promising start that needs support to realize its full potential.


What forms will the eventual projects take?

News organizations participating in the project will produce stories for their own publications or platforms. When appropriate, we’d aim to co-brand and/or co-publish the stories on our digital platform.


Will the projects result in a FRONTLINE documentary?

The main goal of the project is not to produce a full-length documentary. However, if the right story and partner emerge we would explore that option. We encourage applicants to incorporate video into their proposals. We are visual storytellers first and foremost and want to help build that capacity at local news outlets.


How long will each partnership last?

Each project will take up to a year to complete. News organizations submitting proposals should be willing to commit to a long reporting period culminating in publication, rather than a quick turnaround. Deep reporting and narrative storytelling are our specialties, and we will look to replicate them at the local level.


How will the financial support work?

We will grant a stipend to support a reporter on each project. The reporter may be a staff reporter or freelancer connected to a news organization. One purpose of the stipend is to free a reporter for an inquiry lasting months, without pressure to produce daily journalism. It would enable a news organization, for example, to backfill a beat reporting position for the duration of the investigation.


What if a team of reporters is working on the story?

We will consider applications in cases where more than one reporter is involved in the project. We’ll discuss with news organizations how to allocate the salary support.


Will FRONTLINE cover other expenses related to the project, such as travel and benefits?

We will cover benefits for individual reporting partners and some expenses for travel and additional research, depending on the needs of the project.


What kind of training will FRONTLINE provide?

Training will be designed jointly with our partners. Our goal is to help make investigative reporting and narrative storytelling sustainable. These require specific knowledge and skills that can be taught and refined in practice. We will collaborate with our partners to determine the training that best meets their needs.


How does my newsroom apply?

Applications are available here. For further information please send inquiries to

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